New to detecting or struggling to find permissions outside your own garden?
We've been speaking to John Morton to get some tips on the best way to approach land owners and where to start. Where to look for permissions
All land is owned by somebody.
When looking for somewhere to use your metal detector farmers are the obvious place to start as a lot of our country is farmland – Do not just focus on arable farms as pasture and livestock farms are excellent too. Farms are easy to find either by online search or driving about. Do not forget woodland as these areas will have many undisturbed and ancient finds.
How to Approach Land owners
Ask about locally, if you can get an introduction or reference from somebody it will really help to stack things in your favour, many farmers or farm workers will visit a local pub, try to get to know them. Farm shops can be a good way of asking too, especially if you’re a regular there.
Hard work will pay off, spending time driving around and door knocking and speaking face to face with the land over is the single most successful way to ask for permission. They can see you and you can strike up a conversation with them. Present yourself well, treat it like an interview. Always be polite and apologetic for disturbing them.
You need to see it from the farmers point of view as well as your own. You are a complete stranger to them and you want to walk all over their property digging holes. How do they know they can trust you? How can you reassure them you are honest?
Be prepared to get a lot of rejections, and remember although you may be new to this great hobby, this is not a new hobby. People have been metal detecting since the 1970s or earlier. Most farms have been knocked on many, many times before by detectorists. Some farmers get approached weekly, so try and understand that it’s not new to them. Some may unfortunately have had some bad experiences with the dark side of the hobby. This can really put some landowners off, but it can also be an opportunity if you can get talking to them.
Try to looking off the beaten track. All the obvious farms on main roads will have been approached, many will have existing detectorists already searching the fields.
You generally get out of the hobby what you put in. If you have any finds photos or records of treasure submission paperwork, etc make a portfolio to show them. Present yourself, make a header page with all your personal contact details on. Print copies off and leave one with a landowner. It looks professional and once they start looking at it you have their interest.
Make sure you have public liability insurance through the National Council for Metal Detecting or something similar and let them know you have this.
Do not give up, farms change hands, the new owner or farmer may allow you on land where the previous owner would not.
Be honest once you have permissions. Without the landowner you have no hobby so share your finds and it can really pay off. The farming community is very close so bear that in mind
The Best People To Ask
When knocking always ask for the landowner, apologise for bothering them. If they are not there leave your details, it gives you an opportunity to call back. The worst thing that can happen when door knowing is that they say “no”, so you just move on to the next one. Perseverance does pay off.
Best time of year to detect on the land (in terms of ploughing, crops etc)
Any time can work, if you see a tractor in the fields - wait at the end of the line and if he/she stops you can ask who owns the land, it may be the farmer himself. Knocking on a door with a name makes a huge difference. It shows you’ve done some research.
The summertime and while crops are growing is a great time to look and ask for permission as farmers and farm managers are less busy. Harvest time can be tricky and you are likely to get less time to talk.
COVID-19 - this is changed everything. Have respect for the farmer and his family, they may be shielding or vulnerable. They may not feel comfortable around strangers. If you do knock, do so with social distancing in mind and be happy to wear a face mask.
The best place to start if you’ve never been out of your garden
Your garden is definitely work a search!
The beach is always worth a go - some fantastic finds have be found along beaches. People have been fascinated by the sea for 1000s of years so you never know what might wash up.
There are local metal detecting groups and clubs that hold digs, alternatively there are social media detecting groups where you can join and pay on the day to detect at advertised event digs. This is also a great way of meeting others and learning more about the hobby.
Blog By John Morton
Check out his Facebook group Another Metal Detecting Group